I never read fantasy novels, I just am not interested in all the world building. I feel like the majority of the time you spend so much time of developing that aspect of the book that everything else can end up taking a backseat. As much as this is a fantasy novel, with the elves and the fae, what you also have is an old-fashioned adventure filled with mystery and a slow burn romance.
Jastyn Cipher and her mother were cast out of the village by the royal family. Jastyn’s mother had a child with a fae and therefore broke one the kingdom’s laws. After spending quite some time in shackles the mother and young child have been shunned by their community for decades. Jastyn despises the royal family. Unfortunately, Jastyn’s younger sister has fallen ill and nothing the Alchemist mixes will fix what she ails from. Going to the queen to beg for her healing powers is not something this young woman wants to do but at this point she has no other options.
Princess Aurelia Diarmaid wants more than anything to break out of the castle and experience the world outside of its protective walls. Her parents have kept the princess safe but have also clipped her wings and made her feel trapped and restless.
Our two main characters are a study in contrasts. Jastyn is considered less than a commoner. Her life has been filled with barely meeting basic needs has toughened her and made her a skilled outdoorswoman. Aurelia wants for nothing but as much privilege as she has something is missing.
The world building and fantastic elements are all there. Ledel makes them believable and paints you a picture as the story unfolds. Where I think the book really takes shape and leaps to the next level is the dynamic between our leading ladies. There is an excellent lesfic drama/romance unfolding between the two young women. Everything is stacked against them and that is obvious from their initial meeting. Attraction, longing gazes, a simple touch, it all begins to stoke the fires of a would be romance. You cannot help but love these two brave heroines who are thrust into chaos and an adventure. With Jastyn, I loved all that vulnerability and the crushing hopelessly on someone who is completely above your stature in society. It is just enough angst to keep you rooting for the impossible. With Princess Aurelia, you love that she is nothing like Jastyn thought her to be. Aurelia is capable, smart, compassionate and is absolutely fearless in the face of danger.
Sam Ledel has definitely set up an epic adventure of star-crossed lovers. This book one of a trilogy doesn’t leave you with a cliffhanger but you are definitely going to be left ready for the next book. The romance is just blossoming, they are not a couple this is one where we are going to have to work for it a bit. As a non-fantasy lover, I adored this book and am ready to read where Ledel takes us next. This book is quality writing, great pacing, and top-notch characters. You cannot go wrong with this one!
4.25 out of 5 stars
Writing a novel from the perspective of multiple protagonists must be daunting. Having the reader be able to discern each character and enter a new headspace has to be difficult and I give it up to any writer that goes for it. Erin Zak tackles it head-on and introduces three amazing women that love with all their hear even in the toughest of circumstances.
Jackie Mitchell, a successful lesbian romance author. This writer is an introvert, often going long periods of time writing and avoiding human contact. She does have a close group of friends that are a great support system for her. Jackie, for the most part, enjoys women when she wants companionship but keeps it strictly friends with benefits. She does not want a relationship and is often leery of meeting new people. Jackie’s well-constructed world is turned upside down when the daughter she gave up at birth arrives on her doorstep.
Sixteen-year-old Beth Weber hitch-hicked her way from Savannah to St. Petersburg to meet her bio-mom Jackie. Beth has no idea what to expect of Jackie but she has to see for herself and damn the consequences. Since the teen found out she was adopted her mind constantly wonders about the woman who gave her up and what the circumstances were that brought her to that decision.
Beth’s adoptive mother is Susan Weber. Susan is really the catalyst for Beth and Jackie moving from the nice to meet you phase into something more. Here is where things get tricky in the story. Susan is being abused by her husband. He has affairs, stays away from home for days on end and he also puts his hands on his wife when he becomes angered. Susan would tell any woman in her shoes to leave but for some reason cannot make herself go. When the husband finds out that Beth reached out to Jackie things go from bad to worse very quickly. Finally, she is pushed to run.
I was intrigued by the three points of view concept. I think multi-protagonists is often times really hard to pull off because you cannot dive all the way in. Most times you are constantly pulled in another direction at too fast of a speed. With that being said, it was really neat to be able to hear what was in Jackie, Beth and Susan’s head but I almost always for wished I could have just a little more each time. This book tackles seriously heavy issues. Abuse, coming out, self-worth, divorce…and at times it felt like the romance (I can’t believe I am writing this) took over when we should have been fleshing out the major complex emotional issues. Things were glossed over just a bit too smoothly for the weight of the issues in my opinion. I liked the story, I liked the characters, I just wanted more. I felt like everything was wrapped up with a perfect ending when we needed more chapters to hammer this out in a realistic way.
3 out of 5 stars
Carsen Taite is one of my go-to authors. If she writes I’m going to read it and read at that exact moment I will. I know when I pick up one of her books I am going to get a top-notch story. Her newest book Practice Makes Perfect we begin a new series focused around an Austin based law firm owned three besties, Campbell, Grace, and Abby. I knew within the first couple of chapters of Practice Makes Perfect that Taite had written something truly special. I was dazzled!
I am a romance junkie. I love a good medical drama, legal drama, insert trope here, but what truly makes my heart sing for joy is the relationship between the two leading ladies. I want, I need the romance to be the standout. Catch the bad guy, save the life, win the gold, sure, but let’s get back to the love story. Taite in this one brings the romance front and center, and damn it’s good!
Campbell Clark is spontaneous. This character trait serves her well at times. Her spontaneity convinces her overworked besties to quit their well-paying jobs at large established law firms to venture out on their own and open a boutique law firm. This is Campbell’s big idea and now she has to land the client’s to keep her best friends bank accounts in the green and their dream viable.
Wynne Garrity knows all about being over-worked. She is on track to being a partner at her Austin based law firm. She just has to keep killing herself to get there. Her boss is a maniacal jerk, she has zero social life and spends all of her time surrounded in paperwork. It will all be worth it, right?
Wynne and Campbell know each other from law school, Campbell popular and charismatic, Wynne hyper-focused and solitary. There two come back into each other’s life when both of their law firms are trying to woo a Facebook-like company’s account. These two are pitted against each other for the business until the proprietor decides to throw them together to work on a lawsuit. They have to work on this case all the while being the competitor. Not to mention, and this is big, they are wildly attracted to each other. Let the sparks fly!
This book has two fantastic leads, an attention-grabbing plot and that sizzling chemistry that great authors can make jump off the page. While all of Taite’s books are fantastic, this one is on that next level. This is a damn good book and I cannot wait to see what is next in this series.
4.75 out of 5 stars
Sophie James is known worldwide. The singer is known for her amazing ballads, soulful voice and selling records at lightning speed. Everyone looking from the outside would think she lives the dream life. The truth is, she is basically all alone other than the companionship of two friends, her longtime stylist and makeup artist. Her mother sees her as a cash cow and the only person she could look to as a loving parent figure, her long-time manager Ray, has suddenly passed away. Sophie is beginning to realize that she needs to forge her own life and start making music that means something to her.
Dana Landon has just been assigned Sophie as her new client. She will be the singer’s PR specialist as well as her manager. She could not be less excited. Sophie has gone a bit off the rails since Ray’s death and the last thing Dana needs is a superstar that has public drunken escapades she has to clean up. Dana really doesn’t think too highly of the “diva” she now represents.
What I really adored about this book is how the main characters, Sophie and Dana, played off each other. The unhurried pace lets them develop from a business relationship, then to friends, and then finally to lovers. Beers sets a nice pace, not too long, not too short and just enough heat to keep you begging for more. It’s the little moments or intimacy between Dana and Sophie that really hook you. You the reader are right there for every step and misstep on their journey. Georgia Beers always delivers amazing stories. This is a book that will charm you and leave you with a smile. Not a bad way to spend your time.
4 out of 5 stars
Jae is one of the premier writers in the romance genre. She knows how to write a romance novel that keeps you engaged and gives you those amazing butterflies. Not the Marrying Kind maybe one of her best books yet. This romance is sweet, well developed and pulls at your heartstrings. This book was so good and I hated to see it end.
While this is a spin-off of A Perfect Rhythm, you definitely do not need to read the latter before you start this one. Our main characters are Ashley and Sasha and the story throws the two protagonists together as they plan the flowers and coordinating wedding cake for their friends Holly and Leo’s upcoming nuptials.
Ashley owns the one and only flower shop in this sleepy mid-west Missouri town. Ashley is deep in the closet, you can count the number of people that know her sexuality on one hand. She is terrified of disappointing her parents and fears that if she is out her business in the conservative community would suffer greatly. Ash has convinced herself that she is fine living her life alone and without a love interest. The risk is just too great.
Sasha is an amazing baker who runs the local bakery. A popular resident who came back home after culinary school. Sasha is a pansexual, who is out but rarely speaks of her sexual preferences or past relationships she had before coming back to her hometown. Ashley was her high school crush but since then they only speak pleasantries to each other in passing.
When Holly and Leo pick their friends to do the cake and the flowers, Sasha and Ashley are thrown together. Sasha pushes Ashley to open up and these two leading ladies develop an amazing friendship with an undercurrent of sexual tension. They are attracted to each other but no it is a no-go.
Where this book really excels is the slow burn racked with emotions. This book pulls that string just tight enough and then gives you all the emotions. I loved the dialogue between the two mains. Ashley’s fear of revealing her sexuality is palatable. You feel her nervous energy pop right off the page. Sasha’s quiet strength gives her the courage to reveal her true self and to stop suppressing all of her emotions. So many feels in this one! THIS BOOK IS SO, SO GOOD!
5 out of 5 Stars
Nicole Stiling’s debut novel Secrets in a Small Town is a dynamic romance meets mystery that keeps you on your toes yet smiling page to page. No worries with this one, you won’t be scared to turn out the lights but you will be enchanted and thoroughly entertained.
Savannah Castillo is the town manager of a sleepy little community of fewer than 1,500 people. She picked this small town specifically because it was an ideal place to raise her daughter, Eliana. Savannah is 100% an ice queen. She lets no one, other than her little one, close to her. This control fanatic is disturbed by the sudden onslaught of mysterious gifts. They arrive at her office and home at all given times with no sender to be found. The gifts start increasing in frequency as well as becoming more and more threating. Savannah thinks she can handle this on her own until her assistant goes over her head and involves the one person Savannah wants to avoid more than anyone, the chief of police, Micki Blake.
Micki loves working in Winter Valley. She was worried when she left the hustle and bustle of the city she would be bored. Come to find out she likes the slow pace of small-town life. The only thorn in her side is that the town manager seems to loathe her for reasons she can’t quite grasp. Micki takes Savannah’s attitude in stride and throws it right back at her needling the uptight town manager whenever she gets the chance. You really can’t rule this lighthearted good-natured police chief. When Micki’s friend and Savannah’s executive assistant, Chloe, brings the gift situation to Micki’s attention, the chief is bound and determined to help her abrasive nemesis.
Nicole Stiling can write a damn good book that is for sure. My mind is still boggled a bit that this is a debut novel. It really has a good flow, the plot is dynamic and the dialogue reads very natural. From the very first page, I was drawn to the story and the main characters. As caustic as Savannah was at times I still liked her and Micki is just a main you are immediately drawn to. There were enough twists and turns in who the stalker might be that I was guessing to the end. I will definitely be reading what Nicole Stiling has to offer next.
4.25 out of 5 stars